National News

New authority will oversee Canada-U.S. bridge

The Ambassador Bridge separate Windsor, Ontario from Detroit, Michigan. And in doing so, it separate Canada from the United States. - Wikimedia Commons (author Norris Wong)
The Ambassador Bridge separate Windsor, Ontario from Detroit, Michigan. And in doing so, it separate Canada from the United States.
— image credit: Wikimedia Commons (author Norris Wong)

By The Canadian Press

WINDSOR, Ont. - A new U.S.-Canadian authority will oversee the construction, operation and maintenance of a proposed six-lane bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., officials from both countries announced Wednesday.

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority is a non-profit Crown corporation that will report to Ottawa as it manages the project for the New International Trade Crossing, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said in a news conference in Windsor, where she was joined by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

The authority will be in charge of preparing the sites and managing the procurement process to select a private-sector partner that will carry out the work, she said. It will also be responsible for setting and collecting tolls.

"The new bridge is needed — it is needed for growing trade and for growing traffic at Canada's busiest U.S. commercial border crossing," Raitt said, adding the project is expected to create thousands of jobs in the coming years.

Among the authority's directors is Caroline Mulroney Lapham, the daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney and the co-founder and executive director of the charitable foundation Shoebox Projects for Shelters, who has served on several non-profit boards.

Michele "Michael" Cautillo, an engineer who has been involved in the project for eight years and previously worked at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, has been appointed president and CEO.

Mark McQueen, who heads Wellington Financial LP, will act as chair of the board of directors. He has also served on the boards of public and private organizations such as the Toronto Port Authority and Sunnybrook hospital.

The remaining director, William Graham, is president of a land development company and is a founding member of the London Heavy Construction Equipment Association.

Another panel, the Canada Michigan International Authority, is also being formed to approve key steps in the public-private partnership and the purchase of the required land in Michigan, she said.

The Canadian government has already agreed to finance the construction of the $1-billion bridge, which would open in 2020, but the project will still need funding from the U.S. government.

The total cost of the project would be about $4 billion, including work on freeway interchanges, customs plazas in both countries and infrastructure work.

The final permit for the project was issued last month after a U.S. court rejected a request for an injunction filed by the private company that owns the existing Ambassador Bridge.

The next step involves securing funding for a U.S. customs facility, along with acquiring land on the American side.

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun has fought the proposal for the new bridge for years, instead pushing for the building of an additional span to his private bridge.

_ By Paola Loriggio in Toronto.

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